US Airways plans to announce tomorrow that it will bring complimentary sodas, juices, tea, water and coffee to its flights starting next month. Charging for soft drinks — particularly bottled water — was highly unpopular with many of its passengers.

Drinks haven’t been free in economy class since Aug. 1, when US Airways announced what it called a Business Model Transformation.

Here’s the letter US Airways’ Doug Parker has sent to employees:

Tomorrow morning we will make an announcement returning complimentary sodas, juices, tea, water and coffee to US Airways. The free beverage service will resume on March 1. This change reverses part of the a la carte business model we believe is right for our business and I’d like to explain why we made this decision.

When we launched the beverage purchase program in 2008 we knew it would generate additional revenue. From this perspective the program was very successful. What we didn’t know at the time, but later experienced, was that the cabin atmosphere would also improve with fewer carts in the aisles and shorter lines to the lavatories.

Today, while we remain firmly committed to the a la carte strategy – we also know it is a work in progress. We know customers don’t buy an airline ticket based on whether or not they will get a free soda onboard, but with US Airways being the only large network carrier to charge for drinks, we are at a disadvantage. More importantly, this difference in our service has become a focal point that detracts from all of the outstanding improvements in on-time performance and baggage handling that all of us have worked so hard to achieve over the past year.

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  • Elliott

    Christopher Elliott has been called one of the world’s leading travel experts. But his focus isn’t on the destination, or ev…

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